Halide Developer Highlights Hidden Macro Camera Feature in 2021 iPad Pro
When Apple releases a new product with upgraded camera technology, the developers behind popular photography app Halide often take a deep dive into the revamped camera features to provide us with some insight into how things work behind the scenes.
Halide developer Sebastiaan de With today shared a look at the cameras in the new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, uncovering a hidden macro capability. The iPad Pro's camera has a different lens design than the iPhone camera, which allows it to focus on things that are much closer to the sensor.
The iPhone focuses to about eight centimeters, but the iPad's camera can get a lot closer, allowing for macro shots that aren't possible on an iPhone.
de With says that he was using the iPad on his lap when he noticed that it focused perfectly on his pant leg, leading him to try it with other objects. "iPad basically comes with a microscope," he says.
The rear camera in the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models has not changed from the prior-generation camera used in the 2020 models, so older iPad Pros also seem to be able to use this close-up shot functionality.
It can be difficult to get the iPad Pro camera to focus with the LiDAR sensor-assisted autofocus feature, so de With recommends a camera app like Halide for iPad to put it into a manual focus mode.
The biggest change to the 2021 M1 iPad Pro models comes in the form a revamped front-facing camera that enables a new Ultra Wide "Center Stage" feature that's designed to pan and zoom with you as you move around a room while on video calls.
The Ultra Wide camera functionality used for Center Stage has a 120 degree field of view, but it's all done with software rather than hardware. There's still a single front-facing camera in the M1 iPad Pro that handles both the standard focal length and the wider view.
The M1 iPad Pro has those 12 megapixels packed into the front-facing camera system to enable a more seamless 'dual camera system': one that is entirely created in software. The camera is ultra-wide and only ultra-wide; thanks to software corrections and extra megapixels, the system can just crop that wide and detailed camera feed down to its old focal length.
The standard front-facing camera view is cropped in from the wide-angle view, something that Apple has also done on the latest iPhone models. de With says that Apple's Center Stage feature is a "very impressive bit of software" that can only be achieved with a tight integration of software and hardware.
The full overview of the M1 iPad Pro camera can be read on the Halide website.